Noelene Callaghan           

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In Australia, Minecraft, Kangaroos, and E-Portfolios

Posted on December 8, 2015 at 5:55 PM

6:00 a.m.

 

It’s 6 am and the alarm on my mobile phone is playing the most horrific sound. I reluctantly pick up my phone, let my  Fitbit  app know that I am awake and check how disruptive my sleep was. I check my emails to see if anything “urgent” was sent to me (nothing was...it's all online shopping opportunities). I check Facebook to see if anything remotely exciting has happened to my friends, check the notifications on my Twitter account, and check Instagram to see what my daughter has uploaded after I told her “lights out” the night before. Then I check the news and finally the weather—warm and sunny.

 

It's now time to leave home and drop off my children at their school.

 

7:30 a.m.

 

I arrive at my own school to hear that there is a kangaroo on the playground.

I arrive at my own school to hear that there is a kangaroo on the playground. This is NOT normal, hence I, like the other 1,200 bodies in my school, flock to the playground to take photos. Like any good digital citizen, I immediately upload them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Then I sign in (attendance) digitally via my phone. 

 

 

 

8:45 a.m.

 

It’s Period 1, and I have Year 7 TAS Multimedia. TAS stands for Technology and Applied Sciences, and in addition to multimedia, includes trades such as IT, woodwork, metalwork and engineering. I mark the roll online (parents receive an immediate SMS if their child is absent) and begin my lesson by connecting my laptop to the projector.

 

I love this class. It’s a support class and the students try so hard. Today, we begin the lesson by completing a “Do Now Activity” that is designed to hook students and help them make connections between what they already know and what they are going to learn. We play Kahoot.it—a fantastic online game that can be customized to suit your learning space. I create my own Kahoot games and use them to pre-test what my students already know about a topic, and to reflect on what they’ve learned. My students beg me to play another game. I make a promise that I will create a game for another day and we begin the lesson. 

 

In this class, I use Project Based Learning to complete the course work. Today, we are using Google Sketchup to design our “dream houses.” Students can select any location in the world to build their houses, researching local environments and ascertaining what resources are available there. California, Hawaii and Sydney are popular selections. They create three designs that they are going to embed onto their e-portfolios. These portfolios align with Australia's new curriculum capabilities. Whilst we are designing, Justin Beiber is playing from my computer.  

 

Before the lesson ends, we screenshot our designs, crop them and save them using Adobe Photoshop. They are then uploaded onto the e-Portfolios and students write a short blog reflecting on today’s work. 

 

 

 

10:20 a.m.

 

We have an assembly immediately after Period 1 to inform all students that the kangaroo has been captured and is OK. He has been taken somewhere safe and we can go on about our day as normal. 

 

10:55 a.m.

 

It is Period 2 and I am teaching Year 8 ICT, which stands for Information, Communication and Technology. Today I am assessing the skills of all of my students against some of the Australian ICT capabilities, looking at how students use Microsoft word processing tools independently and collaboratively and if their skill in using these programs has improved. I use Google Forms to collect the data. All students pass with ease and they are equally proud of themselves and each other.

 

11:55 a.m.

 

I am not teaching this lesson, but have a meeting with a deputy principal about the direction of the school’s ICT platforms and curriculum. Australian schools are moving from having a standard computer room and a school server that is backed up periodically to using a cloud based operation. Students are encouraged to bring in their own devices. All work—created by both teachers and students—is now saved in the cloud and can be accessed at any time. This is a massive change for everyone at our school; it gives our teachers much more flexibility in completing their administrative tasks and gives students more responsibility, allowing them to complete their work outside of school hours.

 

We have an assembly immediately after Period 1 to inform all students that the kangaroo has been captured and is OK.

We are moving in the right direction, though a lot of teacher training and support is still needed so that all students fully benefit from the program. My own role is to assist teachers with digitizing their teaching programs and help them develop tasks that require students to use their laptops as they would use their exercise books.

 

The meeting is very motivating and productive; all of our notes are documented on a PDF document—a template that we use to record school meeting minutes. We share the document and work on this collaboratively.   

 

1:10 p.m.

 

It is time for lunch and my Animé Club. I realize that I have not eaten or had any water yet, so I grab my Thai laksa soup and a bottle of water and head down to my classroom. As I enter, there is a group of students who are quietly drawing Manga, reading Manga texts and watching Animé made by members of their group. I have a real soft spot for these students; in my opinion, they are the quiet achievers. They barely speak to anyone and never ask for help. They can have a tough time making friends or trusting anyone that they haven’t known since kindergarten. And they are just gorgeous!

 

1:55 p.m.

 

It is now Period 4. I have Year 10 Commerce, a high school business class in which 14- and 15-year olds get an overview of basic business topics. Two groups of students present their Business Simulation tasks, which are just incredible. They have been asked to create a fake company and write a business plan using set parameters, identifying a target market, creating a SWOT analysis, writing a promotion plan, creating a market research project, etc. This is an extension/gifted and talented group of students, which means that they continuously amaze me. Before teaching in high school, I lectured at university and I often tell my students that the quality of work that they produce is of a higher standard than that of my undergraduate students.  

 

The most fantastic thing about using a blog is that I am able to give students immediate feedback.

After both groups finish their presentations, we begin using our class blog to revise literacy and writing techniques. Students are given a set of questions with scaffolds that they are to answer. The most fantastic thing about using a blog is that I am able to give students immediate feedback; they can also be peer assessed. I believe that students learn more from each other than from teachers, so using this technique is much more powerful than me writing a few comments. 

 

3:05 p.m.

 

It is time for Minecraft Club. These are THE most eager students I have ever known. They line up outside of my classroom in record time (if only they lined up like this for their normal timetabled classes) and wait patiently until I arrive. As I open the door, they push one another to get into the classroom and begin their weekly challenge. Today we are adding redstone to the community that we have built. 

 

I soon realize that it is already 4:30 pm; it is time to save today’s progress. I have quick final chats with my students about more ideas that they want to add to our world and then run out the school gate. 

 

 

 

4:30 p.m.

 

I try to beat peak hour traffic, using the Bluetooth capability on my in-car navigation system to call my mother and let her know that I am on my way (and have a nice chat before I get to her house as we are often interrupted by my children). I arrive at her house, collect my kids, go home, cook spaghetti for dinner, negotiate unpacking school bags, homework and showers, and put the laundry machine on with a load of school uniforms (compulsory in Australia) before we sit down to eat and discuss our day as a family.  I look forward to the extra hours of sunlight that Daylight Saving Time will bring, when we’ll be able to eat dinner in the backyard.

 

6:00 p.m.

 

As we begin to unwind, I download iMovie onto the family iPad for my daughter in order for her to complete a school assessment task and then help another daughter with her high school assessment task on Ancient Rome.

 

7:00 p.m.

 

It's time for one of my favorite activities of the day. I sit down with my boys and they each take a turn reading with me.

 

Very few schools here use gamification in the classroom. I love Minecraft; the students are engaged and they come to class eager to use it.

My children and I then use Skype on our Surface Pro 3 to video call my husband and wish him goodnight. (He is doing the night shift.)

 

7:30 p.m.

 

It is now time to get some school work done. 

 

I start by marking the remainder of my Year 10 Commerce assessment tasks and enter those marks online. I record some comments on each of the students’ tasks that I will use at the upcoming Parent Teacher Night and in their Yearly Reports.

 

I have been asked to present on how I use Minecraft in the classroom and in our school club to a group of principals in a nearby region (district). Very few schools here use gamification in the classroom. I love Minecraft; the students are engaged and they come to class eager to use it. I don’t recommend it as a stand alone tool, but only alongside other ICT tools.

 

I have presented on this topic quite a lot lately, so constructing this presentation on Sway will be rather simple. I love that I have the opportunity to share my knowledge in this area and know that if I weren’t an MIE, I would not have such opportunities. 

 

 

 

8:30 p.m.

 

I check my emails; there are over 150. 

 

I go onto Twitter. I use Twitter purely for professional purposes, for my own learning and to assist other teachers. I have many alerts sent to my emails and begin reading these articles to determine what I will tweet to my followers. If there are articles that I can use in my classroom, I add them to my class websites so students are able to use them as part of their learning. I also see what is trending and read up on the latest #MSFTEDU and #MIEExpert15 tweets. I love seeing what my peers are doing in the classroom and often use their ideas in my own teaching and learning environments. 

 

10:00 p.m.

 

It's time for bed. Naturally, this is when I remember that I had put a load of laundry on; I run out of my comfy bed to hang the wet uniforms. Electricity costs here are ridiculous, so if I have the central heating on I’ll hang the uniforms out and they'll be dry before we wake. I return to bed and let my Fitbit App know that I'm going to sleep. I promise myself that I will wake up early and go for a run. (Yep, I'm laughing too.) I shut my eyes feeling accomplished and looking forward to what tomorrow brings. 

Magnificent Microsoft Education Exchange

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 2:10 AM

App Review - OneNote

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 8:20 AM

If you are an avid OneNote user and also enjoy using multiple devices to do your work when you are on the go, an app that will allow you to maintain consistency and efficiency in your work is the OneNote app. This app allows its users to add Notebooks, pages and more to their OneNote account which can then be accessed in its full synced version on your own computer. Depending on the type of phone that you own, you may also include images, videos, links and hand drawn text onto the OneNote app which makes it one of the most universal note taking applications available at this time. Available on both iOS and Android at no cost, this is certainly a tool that all teachers should consider downloading and using with their students.

 

Daily Edventures | Noelene Callaghan, MIE Expert from Australia

Posted on June 10, 2015 at 9:00 PM

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Courtesy of Daily Adventures

When collaboration in the classroom is very different to collaboration in a teaching program

Posted on May 24, 2015 at 8:05 PM

Informing educators about the importance of embedding student collaboration into classroom practice has been a top priority for many Australian educators and experts for some time. unfortunately, the message of what 'collaboration' actually means has been lost amongst messages of 21st Century Learning, flipped learning techniques, and other terms that many simply associate with jargon as opposed to the latest teaching pedagogies. Collaboration is universally defined as a coordinated, synchronous activity that is the result of a continued attempt to construct and maintain a shared conception of a problem.

Microsoft and Google have both introduced classrooms that promote collaboration regardless of the device that students use via Office 365 and Google Docs respectively. Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time. . Moreover, these product suites include not only Microsoft's Office products, but additional Apps that encourage critical thinking, enhance numeracy and literacy whilst providing teachers with overall administrative permissions that allows them to view their students work in real time.


Microsoft Australia and New Zealand have joined Microsoft world wide in establishing an educators network 'Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators' which has targeted the top technological teachers in Australia and New Zealand. The overall focus of this program is for its Expert Educators to share their expertise with their peers, schools and other educators in an attempt to work towards attaining a common goal of creating pure collaborative learning environments within schools. True collaborative environments are seeing students create work simultaneously on the same document using different accounts. This is significantly different to a group of students sharing a device (typically a PC) and completing a group assignment. This is also different to students working on the same document and then emailing it to each other for others to work on it. True collaboration permits any number of students share their ideas in real-time. By learning this skill in the classroom, students will develop long-life skills that they can use outside of class time and apply to even non school based projects. Whether it is formal or informal education, learning typically requires participation in a social process of knowledge construction. Knowledge emerges through a network of interactions, and it is distributed and mediated by the people and the tools that they use for interacting. Perhaps this is what prompted Microsoft to purchase Minecraft. Minecraft is a great collaborative tool that educators students about numerous syllabus based topics through play. Web 2.0 tools such as these provide students to share their ideas via text as well as verbally which provides them with additional opportunities of communicating with a clear student voice.


Thus, in order to enhance the collaborative practices that exist in your classroom, it is highly recommended that you consider introducing at least one activity by the end of the school year to provide you with a succinct understanding of how it can be embedded long term in future years.

 


 

What it is like to be an Educator on a Global Stage

Posted on May 6, 2015 at 3:05 AM

1,000 Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators Globally

300 selected to attend Microsoft's Education Exchange

87 countries represented at Microsoft's HQ


I am still coming to grips with being 1 of the 1,000 MIE's selected to attend the 2015 Education Exchange held by Microsoft in Seattle, WA, USA. Being a part of this truly prestigious group of educators gave me the responsibility to share the amazing works of all Australian educators as well as learn and explore the pedagogies taught at those schools globally.


'Bravery, Courage and Leadership'. This was the theme of the conference. The purpose of the theme is to not only remind us of our educational journey thus far, it is to remind us that we must continue to be on this journey and to extend ourselves in the same way that we would extend our students.


 

Yes, this conference was as grand as Microsoft's very own reputation. We were constantly engaged with an amazing introductory performance by the Drum Café as well as by listening to keynote speakers such as Anthony Sacito (Microsoft VP of Worldwide Education), Mr Ziauddin Yousafzai (Peace Prize Winner; Malala's father), and even gave us the opportunity to have an open chat with Mr Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft). These presentations were inspirational and heartfelt, and they certainly set the official tone of the Exchange.


A global Teachmeet was the first formal opportunity that we had to communicate and share our teaching experiences. Learning activities and more were presented and discussed. After speaking to many educators regarding their learning activities that were based on multimedia, OneNote, programming and more, it was clearly apparent that all of the teachers who were here, were deserving of this opportunity to attend the Exchange. The passion that every single teacher demonstrated when presenting their work was in itself inspiring. Learning activities that I was fortunate to learn about include:

Brazil - The fundamentals of using Minecraft and how it can be applied to any subject
Thailand - Collaboration through Sway and Powerpoint to create infographics in Food Technology
Egypt - Using Office Mix to explore how teachers can help mentally handicapped children become better learners with technology and other tools
USA - How to use Powerpoint to complete tasks in Genius Hour
Kazakhstan - Creating learning activities to develop critical thinking skills in developing the nations energy matters


I, myself presented on how to create Personalised Learning Activities by creating matrices that encompassed Blooms Taxonomy and Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. This electronic tool enables teachers to create Project Based Learning activities for their students to complete in a self paced learning environment. The learning matrix presents numerous types of tasks (which students select based on points/value and are required to complete 100 points of work) that students can complete to achieve overall learning outcomes. This is an ideal way to support students of all learning abilities and gives the teacher the flexibility to purely facilitate and assist students one-on-one within the classroom. My presentation can be accessed via: https://sway.com/1FEmbo6F3wMHqyfn


Throughout the Exchange, workshops by teachers were delivered on how they use Office and other technology tools in their classrooms. Every session delivered pragmatic solutions and resources that could be used in EVERY classroom regardless of language or culture. I was fortunate to learn about Skype Classroom and was quite impressed by the simplicity and usability of this tool. More so, the function of participating in a Mystery Skype was certainly of interest as it provides students from around the globe to meet and greet each other and learn about one another in a safe virtual world. This is certainly something I would like to try at least once in my classroom.


I was very fortunate to be invited to participate on a Panel (for 2 sessions) that would discuss how we use Minecraft in the classroom and how teachers could proceed with implementing it in their own schools. The Panel include myself and 3 other educators from Canada, Ireland and Brazil. I was very quick to discover that all of the concerns and questions that I possessed when setting up Minecraft in my own school was the same of all of these teachers from all parts of the world. Understanding that each school operates differently, I was able to provide them with my experiences and reassured them that embedding Minecraft and gamification into teaching and learning is possible to implement and effective in enhancing 21 Century Learning Dimensions. What I found most interesting, is that I was amongst the first to use Minecraft in curriculum based discovered that although many My experiences on using Minecraft in the classroom can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/minecraftrhhs/


 


The Kent Tech Expo is one of the leading expos in USA around education. This Expo showcases the work created by students (by students). I have never attended such an experience before. There were well over 100 schools represented showcasing how they use different tools and softwares in their classrooms to develop their own learning and to enhance the learning of others. The one thing that struck me was the enthusiasm of those students presenting. These students were not the average students that I have in my classroom. They were a complete range of students, from those who were well spoken and extremely intelligent, to those shy and passive personalities who clearly know their work and but speak within the classroom. These students amazed me as they explained what they did in their softly spoken and innocent voices and made me realise that the theme of our conference had trickled down into these Technology Expo space.


 


What is clearly apparent, is that Australia is one of the most innovative and advanced in the educational sector and we should be proud to share our work with our partners working in parts of the world. Yes, we have limitations that prevent us from doing our absolute best, but we all work in schools that have the students best interests at heart. We strive to continuously be innovative and model exemplary learning habits that our students begin to mirror. We are open to taking risks and will try anything at least once. Furthermore, this Exchange has given me a new voice to encourage more and more teachers to take risks as well as nominate them to showcase their work to the world.


To see the different perspectives from teachers on the Educator Exchange, please go to twitter and follow the hashtag #MSFTEduE2

App Review - OneNote

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 7:20 AM

If you are an avid OneNote user and also enjoy using multiple devices to do your work when you are on the go, an app that will allow you to maintain consistency and efficiency in your work is the OneNote app. This app allows its users to add Notebooks, pages and more to their OneNote account which can then be accessed in its full synced version on your own computer. Depending on the type of phone that you own, you may also include images, videos, links and hand drawn text onto the OneNote app which makes it one of the most universal note taking applications available at this time. Available on both iOS and Android at no cost, this is certainly a tool that all teachers should consider downloading and using with their students.

 

I am, an MIE Educator!

Posted on March 21, 2015 at 6:00 AM

These past 2 weeks has certainly been a time of firsts and learning new things. I honestly don’t think that I have learned so much as I have since I was a beginning teacher.


After attending many a conference and networking with numerous teachers, I have realised that being a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator has opened much more doors than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I discover that I was attending the Global Educator Exchange in Seattle to represent Australian Educators, I was able to learn of the more extraordinary things that my colleagues were doing in their own schools. This has encouraged me to be so much more motivated to do so much more in my own school in the space of ICT. Being an MIE Educator has given me the confidence and the voice that I don’t think I previously possessed. Having this 'title' has provided me with a sense of assertion that I am a great educator in this KLA and that my passion and goals is in fact leading towards innovative pedagogies and practice within and outside of my school. I am still completely speechless that I have been given the opportunity to work with the world's finest in Seattle and be classed as one of them.


Prior to becoming an MIE, I used Microsoft Office as a key resource in my classroom. I ensured that students were proficient in their use of these tools and encouraged students to create tasks using Project Based Learning pedagogies. These tools were used to deliver content as well as tools that students used to curate information. Students were encouraged to work autonomously and collaboratively depending on the task at hand. In all instances, a student directed classroom was implemented to extend students in their developing of tools.


Students at Rooty Hill High School also use a Personalised Learning approach. Many pedagogies surrounding personalised learning exist, however I often used Multiple Intelligence Matrices to encourage students to direct their own learning whilst attain learning outcomes. One particular example of how this pedagogical approach was used in my classroom can be accessed via https://sway.com/1FEmbo6F3wMHqyfn


Using Sway is a tool that I have completely embraced since becoming an MIE. I have found that this tool is just wonderful in creating self paced work for students as well as creating reference resources for students that they can refer too whilst creating a project. More importantly, students can access Sway in NSW DEC schools.


When I met the other Australian and New Zealand MIE Experts last October (in 2014), the STEM teachers were grouped together to create a Transformation Project. I was completely blown away by the resume of each of the teachers that I was now working with. These educators were living proof that we, educators, individual educators, could make a difference. Not the 'difference' that we constantly hear about - in terms of changing the life of at least one student, but a substantial difference that is actually revolutionising education as we know it. We quickly ascertained that a collaborative activity that would involved our students was absolutely necessary. Minecraft appeared to be the obvious choice as Microsoft's new relationship with this Virtual World would simplify our implementation plans for including this new resources into our teaching and learning programs. This would now be known as MineClass.


MineClass at Rooty Hill High School was formally launched at the start of the 2015 school year and since its inception, 6 male students with vast backgrounds have united. This unity growing beyond the virtual world as real friendships have developed in the classroom, playground, and of course on Skype where hours of conversation is being documented. Moreover, my students have developed relationships with the students from the other participating 5 schools and have completed challenges together. This student directed collaborative learning environment is already proving successful. (View our blog at http://callaghan-mineclass.blogspot.com.au/). So successful, that our Year 9 IST students will be attending an incursion to develop a teaching and learning program focusing on Minecraft Edu to complete an existing topic. Due to numerous reasons, I personally funded the Minecraft Edu server and accounts for the school and with my skilled technology team, we were able to set up and test our internal Minecraft Edu server. All of the steps involved has been documented on our Rooty Hill High School Minecraft website in an attempt to assist other educators whom wish to do the same for their students. This incursion will run in 1 week and I can NOT wait to share the day with everyone.


Moreover, I attended the 2015 ICTENSW Annual Conference last weekend and was again inspired by my colleagues in the area of Maker Spaces. For those who don’t know about this, its ultimately a safe space where students can make and create objects without teacher intervention. Students have the ability to create and innovate projects that we as educators only dream about as we, perhaps do not have the skill to do so. After deep conversations with each of these presenters, I quickly realised the generosity of large (and) global corporations and was offered free resources for my students. This was new to me. I thought and naively believed that only schools with large budgets could access such technological tools and that schools like mine were left in the dark. I am so humbled by the assistance and contribution of these contributions that my mindset (of education) has again changed. I have realised that being an educator is bigger than what I am currently doing and that I am only tapping a very small percentage of the resources, tools, aspiring leaders available to me. I have also realised that being an MIE Educator will not only open doors for me, but for my school. For those that really need it.

Going live on Minecraft

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 4:35 PM

The Famous 5 have officially launched Mineclass and what is more fabulous than the commitment from these 5 teachers from Australia and New Zealand is that we, as teachers are MUCH more excited that the students who are in our teams.

 

Sir Matt Richards has created a new OneNote that will be used for administration purposes and all of our personal documentation in order to successfully run this program will be included in this collaborative document so that if we ever dig ourselves into a hole and can't get out (Jodi), the others will know where we are up to and be able to carry on with our Minecraft Jedi's.

 

Our objectives as Leaders of this Transformation Project are to enhance the 21st Century skills of our students in addition to develop their minecraft skills by setting challenges that students are to complete.... as a team. This Digital Citizenship experience will not only help students be a part of a new team within their school, it will build friendship in virtual communities and allow us, as teacher leaders, to develop new pedagogies that embrace the technological components that Minecraft has to offer. This will certainly be identified later as we hope to see students develop scripts using java and other coding languages that replicate what those professionals at large technological corporations are creating. This is just one of the higher order computational skills that our students will learn and develop.

 

Why are we doing this? We want our students to become the best 21st century learner that exists. We want them to learn open source learning platforms and utilise such tools so that future generations of students can not only learn these same skills but create something even more innovative and take even more risks that all educational boundaries are broken/dismantled/demolished. Lets help make those walls disappear into thin air and create a new world of learning that hasn't even been documented yet.

 

Mineclass......lets be the Gold of the educational world!



Tools of the Term

Posted on February 16, 2015 at 5:15 AM

 

It is already week 4 of the school year and I can not believe how much I have already achieved within the school and within my classroom during this very short time. I feel as though my school has successfully achieved the impossible in launching a BYOD program to a school of 100 staff and over 1100 students. The concept of introducing BYOD was only decided upon last October and since then, we have created all of the accounts necessary for this to work, established policies and procedures in addition to all of the necessary components of the back end of the project.  


Already in 4 weeks, over 50% of the school is online and teachers are feeling more and more confident using collaborative tools. What is more impressive is the response from teachers. They are all determined to make BYOD a success in our school and are all working together to create a new digital curriculum, offer blended learning and new opportunities of learning.


In amongst of all of this, I have delivered hours of professional learning and have shared resources to many.  


I have tried to focus on creating resources for my students using Office 365 tools in particularly OneNote and Sway. A Sway that I created for my Year 7 TAS students can be viewed at https://sway.com/Tt2BK1tkQJNm_31p This Sway focuses on the design process that students will need to follow to complete their project. This Sway will act as a reference piece for all students throughout all stages of their task.

  

 

 

 

Students have really taken to these tools and are excited to do work. I have never seen students so engaged before. I have junior students submitting work late in the evening and asking higher order questions as they complete their task. This has led me to create even more tailored personalised learning opportunities for all of my students depending on their ICT abilities. 

 

 

 

2015. The year of ......

Posted on January 1, 2015 at 1:25 AM

In my bid to better my tan and to stick to at least one of my New Year's Resolution for 2015, namely 'stay up to date with technologies and innovations'; I pulled out my Surface Pro 3 during my pool breaks and began reflecting on technologies in 2014.

 

It appears that whilst 2013 was the year of the 'selfie', 2014 was the year of the 'hashtag'. Interestingly, many of the twitter posts that I have viewed, and I view quite a few, have hashtags that according programming metalanguage rules, don't actually have any relevance to the post itself. In old school programming days, using metalanguage which essentially had the same purpose as hashtags were to be clear and concise. They were to aid a searcher find your website, image, or data with minimal complexities.

 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic: "spammers often broadcast tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them".

 

Interestingly, the most prominent hashtags, that is the most used hashtags are those that were created by individuals as a result of traumatic events that made headlines for all of the wrong reasons. #putyourbatsout, #bringbackourgirls, and #illridewithyou amongst those that will forever stay with us. Click here for the top ten hashtags used globally: http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/top-10-hashtags-of-2014

 

So, for the hashtag first timer , here are a few steps to help you create hashtags that are relevant and purposeful and most importantly, bring a lot of fun to your personal/professional digital networks;

 

 

1. Understand hashtags. The universe of Twitter is vast and can be a little confusing to navigate. Hashtags are one of the most important and efficient ways of organizing information on Twitter. Anyone can make a hashtag at any time, simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” in a tweet. For example, if you were tweeting about reading this article, you might say "Reading #wikihow article on using #hashtags with #twitter." Then, anybody searching for #wikihow, #hashtags, or #twitter would see your tweet. After a hashtag has been created, other Twitter users can use that hashtag in their own tweets to add to the larger conversation about that topic. Hashtags can be as general (#wikiHow) or as specific (#howToUseHashtagsOnTwitter) as desired. They are a completely organic form of organization, created and managed by Twitter users, not Twitter itself.


2. Create your own hashtag. The form for doing this is exactly the same as for including an already existing hashtag. Simply type a phrase of the form “#topic.” Do not put any spaces in the phrase that you want to turn into a hashtag, because the hashtag begins with the “#” and ends with the first space. When you click “Tweet”, your new tweet will appear in your list of tweets, and the hashtag you created will appear in blue. Scroll over it and click on it to be redirected to the page for the hashtag. If you have really created a brand new hashtag, your tweet should be the only one on the page. Now, every time someone includes your hashtag in a tweet, it will be added to the page. 

 

3. Include an existing hashtag in your tweet. You can do this simply by typing a phrase of the form “#topic” within your tweet. After you click “Tweet,” your tweet will appear in your list of tweets with the hashtag in blue type. Scroll over the hashtag and click on it to go to the page for that hashtag. Your tweet will now appear when other users visit the hashtag page. If you wish to use an existing hashtag, make sure that your spelling is correct and that there are no spaces between the words you wish to include in the hashtag. Capitalization, however, does not matter. Thus “#wikihow”, “#wikiHow”, and “#WikiHow” will all produce the same result.


4. Be polite. When using hashtags, observe hashtag etiquette. Twitter's best practices suggest you not use more than two hashtags in the tweet, because this can dilute their usefulness for other users, and make it a royal pain in the eyeballs to read. Understand the purposes of different hashtags. Some are obviously meant to be silly, while others are more serious. Make sure you observe these differences if you do not want to draw the ire of other Twitter users. Only use hashtags that are relevant to the topic you're tweeting about.

 

 

 

 

BYOD with online collaborative tools

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 9:50 PM

 

Planning is a critical part of an educator’s role. However it doesn't go without saying that in order for an educator to successfully plan, they need to be completely equipped with the correct tools. Correct tools that enable self-learning, collaboration, and record keeping such as those offered by Office 365 and Google Docs.

 

My school has worked tirelessly to introduce a BYOD that will commence in 2015 and in order to do this successfully, extensive planning administratively as well as create digital curriculum and facilitate professional learning is vital. BYOD programs have proven popular in schools as;

 

1.) Students are already familiar and comfortable using their own technology so they can focus on actually learning with them than learning how to use the device.

2.) Students’ personal mobile devices tend to be more cutting-edge, so schools can more easily stay up-to-date with technology.

3.) Students are more likely to have remembered their beloved mobile devices than textbooks or notes.

4.) It’s a cost-effective way to save schools money on technology.

5.) With BYOD students are more likely to continue learning outside of schools hours.

 

I have been fortunate to have played a role in all three of these areas and as a result have been able to assist teachers in developing confidence and direction in their approach to use these tools in their own classroom. Furthermore, teachers are now able to use these new skills in their own planning and curriculum development.

 

The 6 hour professional learning session included hands-on sessions of how to use these collaborative tools as well as how to embed them within school programs. It is important that teachers know how to trouble shoot problems that either themselves or their students are encountering as it occurs. The sessions also provided that teachers time to learn the tools in a self-paced learning environment in order that teachers could fully grasp and play with their device and tools rather than be left to play with it in their own time (as you know, we all intend to do this, but don’t actually get too). By using a procedural approach (ie, first do this, then do that, then do this…), teachers were able to use rope learning techniques to master their own learning.

 

Overall, this professional learning session united teachers by their KLA in their commitment to achieving their outcomes. By completing the tasks in such a way, teachers were able share a variety of activities including sharing their vision, working and learning collaboratively, visiting and observing other classrooms, and participating in shared decision making. This structure also reduces isolation of teachers and creates better informed and committed teachers, and academic gains for students.

 

 

 

 

The essence of programming to teach

Posted on November 30, 2014 at 2:50 AM

Educators around the country are all working tirelessly to mark final assessment tasks, calculate grades, write and complete reports, mark HSC exams and modify or even in some cases, re-write teaching and learning programs.

 

Whilst educators are all familiar with the concepts of programming, it is actually concerning to note that many teachers don't know how to program or have never been involved in programming. In these schools, senior teachers or Head of Curriculum are responsible for the creation of new teaching documentation. Those that are developing their own skill set of programming are learning the key skills of backward mapping, learning trajectories, scoping, sequencing, learning outcomes, the new curriculum, learning across capabilities (LAC) and much much more.

 

The key to programming is to not only ensure that all of the skills and required content as set by the BOSTES syllabus but to cover all of the capabilities (and if NSW, cross curriculum capabilities as well as other necessary capabilities) as well as those areas that are critical to the schools plan in terms of measuring achievement. In some schools, this could be literacy and numeracy, in others it may be about embedding digital curriculums. And other schools, well, they want to include everything in addition to personalised learning and a well rounded blended learning environment that accommodates all students regardless of background, ability level or age. But don't fret, this is certainly not impossible to do. With the correct tools and technologies, creating ambitious , yet 'possible to practice' programs can be created.

 

I have spent much time analysing student data to determine how a structured and purposeful program that embeds digital curriculums can be embedded regardless of KLA's. By working with many other teachers and assessing the strengths of students, we are able to create tasks for students to complete using collaborative skills and tools. This simply means, that as educators, we need to create the platforms that students can use prior to learning the content. This will allow them to create a student centred learning environment that they have facilitated and the teachers primary role is to ensure that students have access to resources that will allow them to extend themselves. By created personalised learning activities, students simply select tasks from a selected few that they feel confident to complete. Students are more likely to exceed when completing these tasks as their success fate of completing class work is significantly higher. Tools that teachers may use to create these types of learning environments are based on Office 365, Google, iPad apps and much more. Whilst all tools provide different offerings to teachers and students, they can be manipulated together to create unique learning spaces. My students use a range of technological tools to create and communicate with to their peers. My students develop their lesson and spend a considerable amount of time collaborating to complete tasks. The way I communicate and converse with my colleagues is mirrored by my students. They have a chance to change the way they learn and its up to me to give them that opportunity. My 2015 programs are largely based on collaborative tools namely Office 365 and Minecraft. Integrating these tools with those previously stated will create unique digital learners.

 

 

 

 

Which Century Are You Teaching?

Posted on November 5, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Teachers are accustomed to terminology that is typically shared as acronyms, or if we are fortunate enough and receive the 'entire' word, its typically a buzz word. However, one key buzz word which is finding its place within schools globally is that of 21st Century Learning. 21st Century Learning is typically defined as a combination of:

  1. weighing the magic of technology with its incredible cost and complexity
  2. underscoring the potential for well thought-out instructional design
  3. considering the considerable potential of social media platforms against its apparent divergence from academic learning

 

Teachthought (2014) takes these elements one step further and models 21st Century Learning as follows:  

 


 However, it is important to recognise that there are 6 dimensions of 21st Century Learning, each equally as significant as the other. Collectively, they create the optimum classroom. And yes, this is achievable and not something that educators wish for. These dimensions include collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation, real-world problem-solving and innovation, use of ICT for learning, skilled communication. You are probably running your eye and thinking, "Well, I do all of those", but how often do you do ALL of these dimensions at once? We (and yes, I am just as guilt) typically address a few but not all. We are experts in two or perhaps a few of these dimensions, thus concentrate on implementing those into our learning activities where possible.


I intend to address all of these dimensions in great detail, but have decided to only do so once I myself have mastered it. Like the implementation of any great pedagogical strategy, it is ideal to begin small and slowly increase your mastery in order to gain true and measurable success.


So the question I leave today is:

Do learners in your classroom have shared responsibility for a joint outcome and make a decisions together?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Re-Learn

Posted on October 21, 2014 at 4:45 AM

Over the last few weeks, I have attended what I consider a significant amount of professional learning and as I reflect on each workshop, course and networking opportunity, I also evaluate if these workshops have had any immediate impact on my teaching and learning.

 

To my initial surprise, it has. I have learned to relearn. I have modified my approach to structuring my classes, my approach to engage all students and provide them with new ways to have a voice within all of my classrooms. Although many teachers may already state that they already do this, I also once claimed that I did this and I thought I did it well too. However, actively participate in professional learning provides teachers to modify current practices whilst giving them the confidence to take risks in terms of enhancing teaching and learning activities. And this, I have done. I have redesigned my class so that my students teach me. I am spending less time talking at the start of the lesson and learn from my students whom share stories of what they are doing ‘technologically’ outside of the classroom. Yes, this is modifying the way I need to teach content as time is redistributed however, with students being so eager to work afterwards, even more content is being learned. I am connecting students on interest levels and creating a mentor program within the teaching and learning environment. I am asking students to guide and facilitate my learning of new softwares and Apps that can better my teacher. I am also asking students to provide me with feedback of what I am doing well in the classroom and on areas that I need to improve on and the results overall, although in preliminary stages are astonishing.

 

In only a short time frame, my students are simply more engaged, more excited about coming to class and are just so keen to share their personal experiences. Moreover I am excited to hear their stories and see their expressions as they do so. Never have I ever felt so connected to my students.

 

As I begin planning and programming for 2015, I intend to embed this structure into my classes and share these pedagogies with other teachers. I plan to keep the conversation going by making the line between conventional verbal conversations and online conversations transparent. I would love if my students continue with the conversations that started in class to continue after hours. Moreover, I would love if they began a discussion after hours and brought it to the classroom. This is different to a Flipped Classroom arrangement as students will not be exposing themselves to new material, but enhancing the skillset that they already possess and sharing those with their peers.

 

I look forward to developing my pedagogical approach and learning to relearn how to be a better teacher because, if the early days are already a pre-emptive indication of success, my future classrooms will be learning environments that will do nothing else but consistently inspire.

 

 

Introducing New Technologies in Schools

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 5:15 AM

Introducing new technologies in schools is a considerably difficult decision to implement. They are numerous factors to consider when introducing new devices and new software and web 2.0 tools. Depending on the learning abilities of the school's students, the curriculum delivered, network capabilities and much, much more, schools are required to differentiate their digital learning platforms based on various requirements that differs from one another greatly. It is for this reason that explains why expert teachers from across the nation are forced to deliver varying and unique pedagogical strategies to deliver identical content achieving identical learning outcomes.

 

This weekend, I met 37 other amazing, inspirational and dedicated educators whom are dedicated in increasing the technological knowledge and skills of their students. Together we are working towards creating new collaborative opportunities for our students by introducing and reinforcing Microsoft tools such as Office 365 and other Microsoft based apps. Using browser based software that are supported by Microsoft will not only provide students with additional learning opportunities but also provide them with new ways to collaborate. Further, it will encourage our students to collaborate with students from other schools, which will ultimately lead to creating a global classroom. This is the global classroom that all teachers are working towards attaining in one way or another by using 21st century learning tools and other teaching and learning resources.

 

I will continue to share my journey with Microsoft as a Microsoft Expert Educator and showcase the work that I and my students are practicing so that, you and your classroom can improve your overall learning.